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Your letter to Governor Apodaca regarding legislation addressing the
included in the list of sites (Sec. 2(f)). One is located at
2) The 140 million dollars allocated for restoration would result
in an average of 7 million dollars per tailings pile. Of the
3) The restoration and disposa? criteria that require the
reduction of radiation levels to (a) the approximate level
federal and state standards and guidelines.
that operated during the 1950's and 1960's. Many of these
out the assessment in the affected states,
changed to "inactive uranium mill tailings sites". The inactive
sense, been abandoned but are simply inactive. Since the Health and Environment Department is responsible for radiological health and safety issues, we are keenly interested in the progress of this legislation. We would appreciate an opportunity to testify in hearings on this legislation. Please contact me if it is possible to still schedule in additional testimony.
Teorges. Goldstein, Ph.D.
SUGGESTED MODIFICATIONS TO
Introductory sentence: change "abandoned uranium mill sites "to" inactive uranium tailings sites".
3. Page 3, line 18, change "abandoned sites" to "inactive sites".
4. Page 3, line 13, (Sec. 2(d)(2)) - Delete "approximates the level which
existed before milling operations began at such site in order to eliminate any health hazard to residents of the area;"
Insert in its place "meets all applicable federal and state standards
and guidelines." 5. Page 3, line 21, (Sec. 2(d)(3)) - Delete "prevent'any further exposure
of individuals to radiation emanating from the tailings;" Insert in its place - "meet all applicable federal and state standards
and guidelines." 6. Page 4, line 24, (Sec. 2(f)) - Insert "Milan, New Mexico; Bluewater,
Insert "and financial" between "technical"
7. Page 5, line 5, (Sec. 2(9))
Page 5, line 6, (Sec. 2(9)) - Insert "and the state." after "Secretary."
Page 5, line 8, (Sec. 2(n)(11)) - Delete "$140,000.000" and Insert $600,000,000."
Page 5, line 16, change "abandoned uranium mill site" to
Page 5, line 24, (Sec. 3(b)(1)) - Delete "approximate levels which existed
12. Page 6, line 4, change 'abandoned sites" to "inactive sites."
Page 6, line 5, (Sec. 3(b)(2)) - Delete "which prevents any further
Page 6, line 14, change "abandoned uranium mill sites" to "inactive
15. Page 7, line 5, Insert "Sec. 5(a) The Secretary shall upon application
by a State provide financial and technical assistance necessary for
16. Page 7, line 5, Delete "Sec.5" and Insert "Sec. 6".
Mr. OTTINGER. The record will remain open for weeks.
The subcommittee asked the Department of Energy to list these sites and the problems associated with them and I see here that in almost every case where there were listed health and safety, in about one-quarter there were none at all listed where there are wind and water and flood control dangers. In only one case there was radiation exposure.
I wonder whether you have any knowledge of whether other health hazards, radiation health hazards have been established and, if so, by whom, on these various sites?
Mr. MARRIOTT. We have met with DOE; we have met with NRC and with a number of local/State authorities and there is no question in any of the minds of the people we have talked to that these do represent some severe health problems.
I am not prepared today to go into detail on those findings, but we will be happy to submit all the information we have as to those health problems to this committee.
Mr. ÖTTINGER. In your State there is Green River, the part-time missile base. The activity adjacent, offsite residential and industry, faces a health effect from flood dangers. Next we have wind and water erosion at Salt Lake City. In no case is there radiation danger listed.
Why shouldn't the company be responsible for the site?
Mr. MARRIOTT. Let me say, first of all, Mr. Chairman, that my bill asks for a specific study to be made determining the total health hazard in this area.
Second, in the case of Salt Lake, for example, the company no longer exists. The company took out bankruptcy and isn't there any more, nor do they have any funds to carry out any type of remedial action, so you couldn't call on the company if they are not here.
Third, my staff indicates that based on the original contracts it was never a condition of those original contracts to be involved in the restoration of those sites.
Mr. OTTINGER. The company was free to leave unsafe conditions? Mr. MARRIOTT. That is my understanding.
Mr. OTTINGER. I think that is something that certainly ought to be pursued. We should not let these companies off the hook. I should think they would have responsibility for the safe operation of the site.
Mr. MARRIOTT. Mr. Chairman, we are working in the Interior Committee on some additional legislation which would deal with ongoing sites and the responsibility of the companies involved in those sites but here we have a case of abandoned or inactive tailing sites and again most of the companies have declared bankruptcy, or at least in the case of Salt Lake, the biggest site, the company no longer exists and even for those who may still be existing, there were no provisions in the original contract for the companies to be involved in this activity whatsoever.
We hope in the future we can solve that problem because I personally feel the companies have some responsibility in this area, but in this case I think it is purely a problem of the Federal Government.
Mr. OTTINGER. More than half of these sites are presently owned by corporations, are quite healthy and in existence. Union Carbide, Exxon, United Nuclear. Maybe we ought to do something where the company is no longer in existence and there are no traceable assets that can be produced. Do you think it should not be protected at all?
Mr. MARRIOTT. I think we should review the contracts carefully and I think we should not get delayed now in long legal battles over whether or not some of these companies have an obligation. I understand there are some of the companies, the larger companies, who have substantial assets who might well be willing to get involved in this, if they are not already, but we are primarily concerned about those areas where there is no identified liability and by terms of the original contract this liability in fact falls upon the Federal Government.
Mr. OTTINGER. Does your legislation contain any provision for the subrogation of the Federal Government, a right that may exist through the contractors?
Mr. MARRIOTT. I am not sure exactly what you mean by that, but I would say my legislation simply puts the burden squarely on the back of the Federal Government where it belongs, and does not allow any way for them to get out of that obligation.
Mr. OTTINGER. It gives them no right to pursue the contract?
Mr. MARRIOTT. I believe the contracts are clear, but I believe if the contracts can be established that somebody else has an obligation, we will be glad to amend my bill in subcommittee to take that into account.
Mr. OTTINGER. I think that should be done at the very minimum. If the Federal Government is going to make a payment, the Government should have a right to pursue the contract, if any right exists.
Mr. MARRIOTT. If you read my testimony very carefully, we have tried to point out several occasions where the Government has assumed that responsibility already and at this point we are not too concerned about contract rights. We will be glad to look at that, but I think we will come up with negative findings.
Mr. OTTINGER. I have a letter dated June 14, 1978, from the Atlantic Richfield Co. to Mr. Dingell, which indicates that they in fact are taking action which they feel appropriate under their contract to fix up the site which they will operate.
Without objection, the letter will be included in the record. [The letter referred to follows: